Monday, November 17, 2014

Try Norfolk, Va., for holiday fun

Norfolk, Va., is a gem of a town worth visiting most any time of the year. If you're heading north a state or two between now and Christmas, be aware of what's going on in Norfolk. Highlights include:

MacArthur Winter Extravaganza, through Dec. 24 at Norfolk’s MacArthur Center -- a large shopping mall right downtown. The Ice Palace -- a  30-foot globe encircled with majestic arches, the ethereal palace appears to be carved from ice -- is where you'll find a photo-friendly Santa. You can also enjoy a 7,200-square-foot outdoor ice rink offering  public skating sessions, ice hockey clinics and figure skating exhibitions (Nov. 22 – Jan. 19). The  MaAarthur Winter Carnival features classic amusement rides, like a ferris wheel and spinning tea cups.

Downtown Norfolk this year debuts its first Dickens’ Christmas Towne holiday celebration. The semblance of Victorian London involves carolers and merchants in period costumes, as well as a Victorian Father Christmas and a holiday train display. Dates: Nov. 21 – Dec. 14 and Dec. 17 – 28.

The Grand Illumination Parade the night of  Nov. 22 marks the 30th year of the skyline being officially lit for the holidays. (The photo at the top of this post shows a float from that parade.)

The Norfolk Botanical Garden id dressed for the season for its 19th annual Dominion Garden of Lights. Nov. 27-Dec. 31, 5:30  to  10 p.m., drive the 2-mile through a display of a million twinkling lights.

 The first-ever BlueMoon Harbor Lights Half Marathon and 5K will be Nov. 21-23. The three-day event begins with a Sports & Fitness Expo followed by two runs that go through the scenic, historic downtown area and along the Hampton Roads Harbor. Adult participants can attend a post-race party with complimentary live music, food and beer.

Need another run? The Tacky Sweater 5K, staged the morning of Dec. 13, is a chance to show off over-the-top holiday-themed outerwear. Besides both races, the fundraiser offers s a tacky sweater competition.

 Details on visiting the Norfolk area: